Most Americans consider their dream community to be close by

The saying goes that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. This is particularly true when it comes to preferred communities, with most Americans considering their preferred neighborhood to be just a short distance from their current one.

According to a survey of 2,210 Americans conducted in May by the home improvement resource ImproveNet, 70 percent of respondents said they do not consider themselves to be living in their dream neighborhood. Thirty percent of respondents considered their dream neighborhood to be in a different town but a similar part of the state. Twenty percent said it was between three and 10 miles away, while 5 percent said it was less than two miles away.

Twenty-seven percent said their preferred neighborhood was in a different part of the state or a neighboring state. Eighteen percent expected they would have to move across the United States or out of the country to find their dream neighborhood.

One-third of respondents said their preferred neighborhood would be a quiet suburb near a city, while one in four said they would want to live in a quieter part of a big city. Twenty-four percent said they preferred an active suburb, while 10 percent wanted to live far from the city and 8 percent wanted to live in a bustling part of a city.

The commute time was a crucial factor in selecting the ideal neighborhood. On average, respondents said a commute of 14 minutes was a good amount of time to spend traveling to their workplace. The average respondent said a commute of more than 28 minutes was the longest they were willing to accept when finding their dream neighborhood.

Respondents were most likely to cite proximity to grocery stores as an important factor in their dream neighborhood, and also rated parks, a strong public school system, and good restaurants as preferred features. Shopping malls, theaters, and places of worship were ranked as less important.

Sixty-one percent said they would like to have a somewhat close relationship with their neighbors, with ImproveNet using the comparison of "friendly co-workers." Twenty-two percent said they would not like to be close to their neighbors, and only 17 percent said they would want the relationship with their neighbors to be "like best friends."

When asked about their current neighborhood, 72 percent of respondents living in a suburb said they were happy with their community. The majority of urban respondents were also satisfied, with 63 percent saying they liked being in the city. By contrast, just 37 percent of those living in an "exurb" were happy with the more isolated locale.

Higher incomes were also associated with greater neighborhood satisfaction, although a majority of respondents at any income level continued to pine for a better neighborhood. Forty-four percent of those making more than $100,000 a year said they were living in their ideal neighborhood, while just 27 percent of those earning less than $50,000 felt the same.

Asked if they were making any efforts to improve their current neighborhood, 61 percent said they were. Forty-nine percent said they supported their local businesses, while 47 percent said they picked up trash in their neighborhood and 23 percent said they reported crime.

Less commonly reported efforts to improve a community included helping to organize a local event or initiative (20 percent), talking with local officials about their neighborhood (14 percent), helping to maintain a community park or garden, or serving as a community watchdog (both 9 percent).

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